The Simpsons Story
Simpsons of Langley are a UK-based company specialising in the manufacture, distribution and retail of professional pet care products. The family-run company, which was founded in 1960, is regarded as a market leader in the design and sourcing of innovative products for the pet grooming industry and which are aimed at enhancing the health and welfare of domesticated pets.
Finding a design engineering partner
Simpsons’ most recent product is a professional dog dryer. Although the firm has made dryers in the past, they wanted to create a professional, mobile dog dryer which would be more compact and more affordable, yet of a higher quality than the dog dryers of competitors.
In the early days of the product, Simpsons first created a rough prototype of their new dryer but, recognised that it required significant further design work to turn it into the finished product.
Long term manufacturing partner, DaRo Products Ltd, recommended that Simpsons approach Cambridge Design Technology (CDT), who would be able to provide the expert design engineering input needed to move the prototype model on to the next stage.
This recommendation, coupled with the fact that CDT are a local business, sealed the deal.
From brief to design
Simpsons and CDT met to discuss the project, the first step of which was to research what (if any) similar products were available, and that Simpsons would be competing with.
From here, it was decided that the prototype design would need to be simple, low cost and use standard OEM components such as the dryer element, fan motor, nozzle moulding and switches. The dryer would also need proper filtration to prevent dog hair from clogging up the dryer’s fan, which could reduce the life and reliability of the product.
The main cover was to be formed using the vacuum forming process, which although not as costly as injection moulding, is still subject to significant capital tooling investment.
The vacuum forming process allowed a plastic formed finish but, like all manufacturing processes, has limitations and advantages. VF is a process similar, albeit on a different scale, to that which is used to make trays for chocolate boxes. The process can also cause the material thickness to thin down, making the plastic housing insubstantial and flimsy. With this in mind, CDT created an initial spaceframe concept placing all of the components and building blocks into context.
With the chassis created from sheet metalwork, the cover was designed to eliminate as many vertical surfaces as possible. To reduce the thinning of the plastic during the vacuum forming process, filleted edges were designed, resulting in smooth transitions. This also significantly reduced the possibility of drape marks and other aberrations in the external cosmetic surfaces. The final prototype design was then detailed with electrical switch gear, earthing, speed control and user interface components, as well as on/off, fan/heater and speed controls.
The dryer unit’s filtration method was an innovative solution. The back area of the unit was covered and sealed around the inside periphery of the case work. Using 300ppi fire retardant reticulated foam, the dryer can be removed from the wall so the user can use a standard vacuum cleaner on the exposed foam to clean the detritus from the filter.
By utilising a high velocity air stream, the dog dryer expels excess water from the animal’s coat after bathing. It speeds up the overall drying process and eliminates the need for towels, resulting in reduced laundry bills.
The dryer also helps to remove tangles and matting from the fur, and the pressure of the air stream also helps massage the skin to stimulate the release of natural oils which protect the animal’s coat.
From design to manufacturing
Simpsons’ new professional dog dryer was launched, as a working prototype, at Crufts 2017. The product was warmly received and a number of orders were taken. Cambridge Design Technology have worked tirelessly with Simpsons to finalise the designs ahead of moving into the manufacturing stage and the product is now for sale on Simpsons’ website.
Kevin Simpson of Simpsons says:
“We worked with Cambridge Design Technology upon recommendation and have been really impressed with the results. Their speed of turnaround along with expert knowledge and detailed design work was invaluable.
“After taking our initial brief and working up the designs, it was clear that Cambridge Design Technology had interpreted our needs well. They delivered a much-improved product design concept for our new dog dryer, and the result is a more professional and robust product which, we firmly believe, is better than any on the market today.”
For more information about Cambridge Design Technology and how we can work with you on your next product design project, please contact Jon Plumb on 01223 662300.